Covid outbreaks in China's summer vacation hotspots leave thousands stranded

Published on Aug 19, 2022 01:05 PM IST

China's zero-Covid policy forced lockdowns in Xinjiang and Tibet, creating widespread unrest in the economically underdeveloped regions.

Wire fencing surrounds an urban village as several city blocks are sealed off due to Covid-19 in the Meilong township of Shanghai, China.(Bloomberg)
Wire fencing surrounds an urban village as several city blocks are sealed off due to Covid-19 in the Meilong township of Shanghai, China.(Bloomberg)

China’s summer vacation hotspots are struggling to get Covid-19 outbreaks under control with the country witnessing its worst week of infections since mid-May. On Thursday, the daily Covid cases dropped to 2,678 from 3,424 a day earlier but, still, the country has reported more than 18,000 local Covid cases in the last seven days amid worrying outbreaks in Hainan, Tibet and Xinjiang that stranded thousands of tourists. Hainan reported 1,499 cases on Wednesday as more than 100,000 of the 150,000 tourists remain stranded by the island’s sudden lockdown, according to China News.

China's zero-Covid policy forced lockdowns in Xinjiang and Tibet, creating widespread unrest in the economically underdeveloped regions.

The lockdown in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, was extended till August 18 after initial restriction imposed on August 8. The Ngari Prefecture of Tibet was also under lock down since August 11, disrupting the transportation between Shigatse, Lhasa, and Ngari Prefecture. Famous tourist attractions across Tibet were also closed for the public.

In a bid to contain the virus, Chinese authorities have been using the broad surveillance measures, previously used to quell dissent, to enforce lockdowns, reported Tibet Press. Over the years, China has been using the surveillance to crack down on Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims. The measures have helped the authorities contain any public display of anger like those seen earlier this year in Shanghai.

While's Chinese President Xi Jinping's strict zero-Covid policy has been hailed by the administration, the lockdown triggered protests and subsequent crackdown on the protesters as the restrictions severely impacted the trade and businesses of the residents.

About 430 civilian demonstrations have taken place across major population centers in China since January 2022. The primary trigger of the protests has been brutal enforcement of Covid lockdowns in high population density areas leading to delay in salary disbursement, scarcity of daily commodities and apparent apathy of the local governments.

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